Sophie Sutton -
Format: CD / Download Album
It‘s been a long and interesting journey, since 1984, when Johny Brown first formed Band of Holy Joy. Following two self-released cassette-only album releases, they released their first album proper, More Tales from the City on South London label Flim Flam. Inconceivable as it may seem today, BOHJ were Smash Hits’ cover stars back then, through their Rough Trade album Manic, Magic, Majestic. Their closest compadres then would have been labelmates, Dublin’s The Virgin Prunes whose similarly theatrical and provocative live performances led to a perhaps lazy journalistic assessment that both bands should be filed under some kind of ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. That puts it in perspective - BOHJ were never gonna be easy to categorise, and still aren’t to this day. Band of Holy Joy, have been documenting a London life, whether it be through sharing squats with Test Department in New Cross in the South, to documenting almost every part of London lifestyle with and without style, from squats in the North, the West and to finally end up in the cool parts of the East in Shoreditch and Stoke Newington – who would have thought.
BOHJ’s inspirational beginnings came through the wonderful creative shambles that was their interpretation of a new wave take on Brecht and Weil in the 20’s and 30’s; and their shambolic performances with junk-shop instruments and rudimentary electronics. BOHJ’s sound, has over the years, said to have included elements of post-punk, folk rock, European cabaret, reflective instrumentation and epic pop, but founder and only constant band-member, along with Bill Lewington who has done his time immemorial for the artistic wheel that is BOHJ, Johny, insists “we are very much an Indie band, but an open ended outwardly musical thinking Indie band as opposed to the traditional Sarah type Indie bands, but our roots are in Indie, much more than they are in The Pogues or Brecht, but I'm also happy when those elements are mentioned”.
Regardless, their literate lyricism and traditionalism did find them somehow aligned with The Pogues, but as Shane’s lyricism shambled wonderfully into a more global approach to storytelling, particularly to Australia and NYC, Johny’s visions lay deeply rooted in the modern-day London and all it didn’t have to offer. Today, thirty years on, his vision is more Orwellian, 1984, but transmitted through omnipresent modern day technology - broadcasting from the radio stations and CCTV cameras, the ones not censored and somehow still allowed to beam the stories from the street – sleaze and scandal, social misjustice, refugees, the homeless, the abused, those mental health issues and personal health worries; all viewed through a scanner darkly.
Band of Holy Joy have had more personnel changes than The Fall, and are about to release their nineteenth album, Land of Holy Joy, their first on Stereogram Recordings. As is their want, the lyricism on the recent introductory single Isn’t That Just the Life deals with the darker side of life, but the music and instrumentation are upbeat, resulting in an uplifting and cool indie, almost Northern Soul-esque slice of a Summer which never quite materialised.
In a perfect world this would have been Top Ten, but we live in a far from perfect world, yet Band of Holy Joy continue to have the ability to document ‘days in the life’ of random individuals lyrically, plumbing the lower depths of inner city urban existence and all that goes with it, and sugar-coating it with their trademark musical upbeat optimism.
The last long player (Un-Easy Listening) released in early 2014 saw the band slimmed down to a six-piece, which has resulted in possibly BOHJ’s best songwriting partnership to date, in the shape of Johny and mercurial guitarist James Stephen Finn. Exceptional reviews followed (see Press Pack), accompanied by a handful of well received European and UK dates, and a series of download singles celebrating ‘good living and bad livers’, the highlight being their tribute to George Best on ‘When a Gift is a Curse’.
The album cover visual speaks volumes as to what is inside – the vision of sheep doing as they do as normal, against a backdrop of a pre-apocalyptic happening – a world on the verge of every crisis imaginable, whilst some just sit back and get on with what they do regardless of the outcome. It’s a frightening metaphor for what we are all living through today.
I’ve made a point of not trying to dissect every song on the album, as is the want of most PR fluff that may come your way – rather, listen yourself, explore the lyrics and come to your own conclusion. I think it’s pretty clear.
On the whole, I have to say there is not much lightness here, it is in the most-part pretty dark, but there is respite through the beauty of the overall sound - I kinda see this as the soundtrack to a particularly harrowing Ray Winstone and Olivia Coleman drama.
Labelmate Lou Reid, chanteuse with Lola in Slacks offered this for ‘Isn’t that Just the Life’: “It’s a real gem. Love the opening line: ‘the tattoo on my pelvic bone is faded’ - Lyrics are especially great written from a girl’s perspective. Quite a celebration of the female spirit. Love it! Johny’s voice is a real heartbreak too”.
“Johny is the patron saint and torch singer for a tier of humanity increasingly ground down by bastard, callous, remote and indifferent powers that be, especially in this here big city of London”.
David Stubbs – The Quietus and Author of Future Days
“Teenager stabbed on bus dies in best friend’s arms
Disabled work longer hours because they are grateful
Some nights I break I admit I just walk and I cry
But I’m going to change this world before I die”
‘Isn’t That Just the Life – Band of Holy Joy, 2015’
Stream 'All The Girls Are Wearing Desert Boots'
18 September - Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Tees, supporting Penetration
19 September - Westgarth Social Club, Middlesborough with The Cathode Ray and Lola in Slacks
20 September - Admiral Bar, Glasgow with The Cathode Ray and Lola in Slacks
21 September - The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh with The Cathode Ray and Lola in Slacks
10 October - Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis with Spiritualised, The Fall, Echo & the Bunnymen, Johnny Marr, Young Fathers etc
24 October - Prince Albert, Brighton
Andy Williams - lead guitar
Richie King - rhythm guitar
Steve Williams - bass guitar
Jamie Williams - drums
International pop star EMIN has teamed up with Multi Grammy award winning music legend Nile Rodgers for his upcoming single ‘Boomerang’. The track is the second single from his latest album ‘More Amor’ and will be released worldwide by Warner/ADA on 23rd October.
Teaming up with Danish hit maker Cut Father with Nile Rodgers’ unmistakable talents on guitar, EMIN has created his strongest release to date. ‘Boomerang’ is the perfect pop song, unrelentingly catchy and upbeat.
“Having Nile Rodgers perform as well as co-writing the song is a dream come true. I have admired Nile's genius for many years” says Emin. “He has played on and produced so many internationally successful hit records - including the recent worldwide smash "Get Lucky" - that I feel totally privileged to have him on my new single."
The superb, monochrome music video, recently shot in London by the award winning team at Steam in Motion and Sound, will be released in early September ahead of the single’s release.
It has been an exceptional couple of years for the Azerbaijani sensation recently; having played some of the biggest events of his career, including a worldwide broadcast of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, a similarly spectacular audience as special guest performer at Eurovision in his home town of Baku, and close to a billion viewers and 160 countries during the broadcast of Miss Universe from Moscow.
Currently on a world tour that has seen Emin play multiple shows in the US, Europe and the Middle East, his latest visit to London was for a special sold out show at Bush Hall which was filmed exclusively for a primetime TV series due to air in the UK this autumn. The show, which will showcase the extraordinary lives of a handful of people, will air on primetime UK TV and EMIN will be the focus of an entire episode, showing how he manages to expertly balance an international pop career with running a hugely successful business empire.
Not content with running multiple businesses, touring the world and recording songs with Grammy winners, EMIN will also be performing a special show for a national holiday in front of 50,000 people in his home town of Moscow’s Red Square. He also has another restaurant opening later this year with business partner Robert DeNiro and the release of ‘Boomerang’ to add yet more to his ever growing legacy.
Calming River is the stage name of British songwriter Joshua Brain.
Delicate and tender, his alternative-acoustic songs shine a melancholic light within a dark and brooding atmosphere. Intricate fingerpicking, numerous tunings and reflective, somber lyrics generate an intimate and beautiful aesthetic, complemented by the harrowing violin of DJ Alvaro Takt (Cassetta Records).
In 2014 Brain released his seven track debut Afflict and Redeem. To date the EP has caught the attention of numerous radio stations, fanzines and reviewers. Now living in Denmark, the release of Joshua Brain's debut has coincided with numerous shows in country's two biggest cities Copenhagen and Aarhus. In Autumn 2015, after a summer of live performances, Calming River releases a new four track EP, titled The Ones That We Left Behind. The record, which was recorded and produced in Aarhus, sees the artist continue his collaboration with DJ and violinst Alvaro Takt.
Calming River can be found on all major sites, including Spotify, WiMP and iTunes.
"Calming River is an artist who creates very real music, music which comes to life and moves before you like an apparition."
"It is a wistful, melancholic and thoughtful album with traces of the 1960s psychedelic folk with groups like The Incredible String Bandand newer models like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis."
"An unforgettable listening experience centred around a folk-tinged indie rock sound" - Diffuser.fm
"A wistful, self-deprecating feel at times recalling Camera Obscura in their awkward glamour" - Clash
"An incredibly well made, slightly baroque, harmony-drenched thing of beauty" - The Sound of Confusion
"Insightful and psychedelic tales" - Creative Control Magazine
"Reminiscent of the husky, melancholic dirges of Lambchop" - Glasswerk
"Digging this track, its got a great alt-rock-folk sound" - Indie Minded
"A nimble mesh of indie rock and vintage computing" - Slate The Disco